Dale Carpenter

  • Distinguished University Teaching Professor
  • Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law
  • Yale College, B.A.
  • University of Chicago Law School, J.D.

Office: 350
Mondale Hall, 229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Professor Dale Carpenter teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, the First Amendment, and sexual orientation and the law. In 2014, he won the University’s top award for graduate and professional teaching, earning the title Distinguished University Teaching Professor. He was selected Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer for 2013. In 2007, he was appointed the Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law. He was the Julius E. Davis Professor of Law for 2006-07 and the Vance K. Opperman Research Scholar for 2003-04. Professor Carpenter was chosen the Stanley V. Kinyon Teacher of the Year for 2003-04 and 2005-06 and was the Tenured Teacher of the Year for 2006-07. Since 2004, he has served as an editor of Constitutional Commentary.

Professor Carpenter received his B.A. degree in history, magna cum laude, from Yale College in 1989. He received his J.D., with honors, from the University of Chicago Law School in 1992. At the University of Chicago he was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law Review. He received both the D. Francis Bustin Prize for excellence in legal scholarship and the John M. Olin Foundation Scholarship for Law & Economics.

Professor Carpenter clerked for The Honorable Edith H. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1992 to 1993. After his clerkship, he practiced at Vinson & Elkins in Houston and at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco. He is a member of the state bars of Texas and California.

He is a frequent television, radio, and print commentator on constitutional law, the First Amendment, and sexual orientation and the law. Since 2005, he has been an active blogger on the popular legal blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, which is hosted by the Washington Post.


University of Chicago Law School
J.D. 1992, with honors
Member, University of Chicago Law Review, 1990-91
Editor-in-Chief, University of Chicago Law Review, 1991-92
D. Francis Bustin Prize for excellence in legal scholarship
John M. Olin Foundation Scholarship for Law & Economics

Yale College
B.A. 1989, magna cum laude, distinction in major (history)
John Addison Porter Prize for best American history senior essay (topic: Griswold v. Connecticut)



  • Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas: How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans (W. W. Norton & Company, 2012)

Journal Articles

  • Windsor Products: Equal Protection from Animus, 2013 Supreme Court Review 183 (2013)
    | SSRN
  • A Traditionalist Case for Gay Marriage, 50 South Texas Law Review 93 (2008-2009)
  • Straight Acting, 9 Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology 803 (2008)
  • Institutional Review Boards, Regulatory Incentives, and Some Modest Proposals for Reform, 101 Northwestern University Law Review 687 (2007)
    | SSRN
  • Unanimously Wrong, 2006 Cato Supreme Court Review 217 (2006)
    | SSRN
  • Bad Arguments Against Gay Marriage, 7 Florida Coastal Law Review 181 (2005)
    | SSRN
  • The Value of Institutions and the Values of Free Speech, 89 Minnesota Law Review 1407 (2005)
  • Four Arguments against the Federal Marriage Amendment that Even an Opponent of Gay Marriage Should Accept, 2 University of St. Thomas Law Journal 71 (2004)
  • Is Lawrence Libertarian?, 88 Minnesota Law Review 1140 (2004)
  • The Antipaternalism Principle in the First Amendment, 37 Creighton Law Review 579 (2004)
  • The Unknown Past of Lawrence v. Texas, 102 Michigan Law Review 1464 (2004)
  • Judicial Supremacy and Its Discontents, 20 Constitutional Commentary 405 (2003)
  • Keeping Secrets, 86 Minnesota Law Review 1097 (2002)
  • A Conservative Defense of Romer v. Evans, 76 Indiana Law Journal 403 (2001)
  • Expressive Association and Anti-Discrimination Law After Dale: A Tripartite Approach, 85 Minnesota Law Review 1515 (2001)
  • The Limits of Gaylaw, 17 Constitutional Commentary 603 (2001) (reviewing William N. Eskridge, Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet (Harvard University Press, 1999)) (review essay)
  • Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Under Title VII, 37 South Texas Law Review 699 (1996)
  • Bumping the Status Quo: Actual Relief for Actual Victims Under Title VII, 58 University of Chicago Law Review 703 (1991) (comment)

Book Chapters

  • Autonomy, in Oxford Handbook of the United States Constitution (Sanford Levinson, Mark Tushnet & Mark Graber, eds., Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • The Unconservative Consequences of Conservative Opposition to Gay Marriage, in What’s the Harm?: Does Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Really Harm Individuals, Families, or Society? 319-324 (Lynn Wardle, ed., University Press of America, 2008)
  • Four Arguments, in Defending Same-Sex Marriage 161-182 (Mark Strasser, ed., Praeger Publishers, 2006)
  • Lawrence Past, in The Future of Gay Rights in America 107-150 (H.N. Hirsch, ed., Routledge, 2005)
  • Bad Arguments for Gay Marriage, in I Do/I Don’t: Queers on Marriage (Greg Wharton, ed., Suspect Thoughts Press, 2004)

Book Reviews

  • On the Legal Frontlines of Same-Sex Marriage, New York Times, June 29, 2014 (reviewing David Boies & Theodore B. Olson, Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality (Viking, 2014))
  • Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2014 (reviewing Jo Becker, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality (Penguin Press, 2014))
  • Book Review, 8 Engage 154 (June 2007) (reviewing David Blankenhorn, The Future of Marriage (Encounter Books, 2007))

Editorials, Commentary & Letters

  • Numerous essays on law, politics, and culture contributed as blogger for the Volokh Conspiracy
  • Why marriage amendment is bad policy, and bad politics, for Republicans, St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 17, 2011 (op-ed)
  • How the Law Accepted Gays, New York Times, Apr. 28, 2011 (op-ed)
  • Yes, Protect Marriage. Let Gays Wed, Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 9, 2010 (op-ed)
  • Anti-Gay but Why Sue?: Fighting eHarmony Ban on Same-Sex Matchups, Chicago Sun-Times, July 9, 2007 (op-ed)
  • The Federal Marriage Amendment: Anti-democratic, Chicago Sun-Times, June 4, 2006 (op-ed)
  • Law School Is Anti-discrimination, Not Anti-military, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Dec. 17, 2005 (op-ed) Alex Johnson Jr. & Beverly Balos
  • The Bonds of Common Ground, National Review Online, Oct. 25, 2005
  • Children and Society Would Benefit, Too, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Sept. 17, 2004 (op-ed)
  • Sodomites Owe Thanks to Texas Republicans, Houston Chronicle, July 20, 2003 (op-ed)

Other Publications

  • Pride’s Progeny: Legal Ramifications of Same-Sex Marriage, 71 Bench and Bar of Minnesota 20 (Jan. 2014) Sonja Dunnwald Peterson, Nancy Zalusky Bergan & R. Mark Frey
  • Justice Scalia’s Constitutional Case for Gay Marriage, 14 Engage: The Journal of the Federalist Society’s Practice Groups 14 (2013)
  • The Federal Marriage Amendment: Unnecessary, Anti-Federalist, and Undemocratic, The Cato Institute, June 1, 2006 (policy analysis)
    | SSRN
  • A Discourse: Presidential Powers in Time of War, Perspectives: The Magazine of the University of Minnesota Law School 35-41 (Spring 2006) (exchange) Michael Paulsen & Heidi Kitrosser
  • Is the Solomon Amendment Unconstitutional?, 3 Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases 143 (ABA, Nov. 28, 2005)
  • Analyzing Lawrence v. Texas, 19 Focus on Law Studies 2 (ABA, 2003)
  • Does the Texas Homosexual Conduct Law Violate the Fourteenth Amendment?, 6 Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases 341 (ABA, 2003)

Selected Legal Briefs

  • Brief for the Cato Institute in Support of Petitioner as Amici Curiae, Elane Photography LLC v. Willock, No. 13-585 (U.S. filed Dec. 13, 2013) (co-author)
  • Brief of Federalism Scholars in Support of Respondent as Amici Curiae, United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307 (U.S. filed Mar. 1, 2013) (co-author)
  • Brief for the Republican Unity Coalition and the Honorable Alan K. Simpson in Support of Petitioners as Amicus Curiae, Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102 (U.S. filed Jan. 16, 2003) (co-author)


  • Legislation Related to Marriage Bills: Hearings Before Committees of the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House of Representatives (Mar., Apr., May 2013)
  • Proposed Amendment to Minnesota Constitution: Hearings Before Committees of Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House of Representatives (May 2011)
  • Legislation Related to Marriage Bills: Hearing on S.F. 1732, S.F. 120, and S.F. 1210 Before the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee, 86th Session (Mar. 2, 2010) (expert witness)
  • Legislation Related to Marriage Bills: Hearing on H.F. 999, H.F. 1740, and H.F. 893 Before the Minnesota House Civil Justice Committee, 86th Session (Feb. 22, 2010) (expert witness)
  • What Is Needed to Defend the Bi-Partisan Defense of Marriage Act of 1996?: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 108th Cong., 1st Sess. (Sept. 4, 2003) (expert witness)

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

Walter F. Mondale Hall | 229 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-625-5000

Email Us

Connect on Social Media